It wasn’t the dozens of sexual harassment claims that saw Fox News host Bill O’Reilly finally shown the door after numerous sexual harassment allegations, but rather the 50 or so advertisers that started pulling their dollars from O’Reilly’s popular prime time show, The O’Reilly Factor.
Along with the persistence of women.
The advertiser walk out started just over two weeks ago, after a New York Times investigation featuring five women revealed they had been paid up to AU$17 million following allegations they had been sexually harassed by O’Reilly. The piece also claimed the money had come from a mix of O’Reilly himself, and his employer Fox, and noted that Fox and its parent company 21st Century Fox had repeatedly stood by O’Reilly, despite the numerous allegations.
Rupert, Lachlan and James Murdoch all signed off on an email this week to Fox staff announcing O’Reilly’s departure. O’Reilly released a statement to the media praising his employers, but saying it was “tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims … But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today.”
He’s unlikely to leave out of pocket. CNN reports O’Reilly will be paid “tens of millions of dollars”, according to a number of different sources, although neither Fox nor O’Reilly will release the final fee due to confidentiality agreements.
Lisa Bloom, a lawyer representing three of the women who have accused O’Reilly of sexual harassment, said O’Reilly’s ousting comes following the persistence of women. “This is what happens when women speak our truth: we can slay dragons,” she said in a statement.
“Fox News should have fired him in 2004 when the first complaint was made, but at least they did it now. They did it because we persisted.”
— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) April 20, 2017
Former Fox CEO Roger Ailes was last year paid more than $40 million, the entire amount of his remaining contract with Fox, upon being pressured to resign following sexual harassment allegations.
At the time of Ailes’ ousting, 21st Century Fox had promised to clean up Fox’s culture.
Seemingly, little has changed.
Wendy Walsh, a regular O’Reilly Factor guest who has made allegations against O’Reilly, told the New York Times this latest move is a “seismic cultural shift.” “Today we have entered a new era in workplace politics.”
— Wendy Walsh (@DrWendyWalsh) April 20, 2017
O’Reilly has long been considered a Rupert Murdoch favourite. Known for his so-called ‘no spin’ zone and dominating right-wing opinions, he has been there since the beginning of the network.
— Lawrence O’Donnell (@Lawrence) April 19, 2017
Dr Walsh released a video earlier this month urging more women to speak out about sexual harassment. “If you dress beautifully, if you smile a lot, if you stroke the ego of the big dog, the one who can feed your family or give you that job, it is not your fault to be sexually harassed,” she said. “The only way we can change toxic workplaces is for all of us to come forward.”